LendKey Student Loan Refinancing and Private Student Loans: 2022 Review

Full Review

LendKey’s undergraduate private student loans are best for those who value working with a community bank or credit union, and those who like the idea of a long forbearance period as a safety net. LendKey offers 18 months of forbearance for undergraduate student loans, more than many other lenders provide, but requires payments while you’re in school.

LendKey private student loan at a glance

  • LendKey services all loans.

  • 18 months of forbearance available, in six-month increments.

  • No personalized rate estimates via soft credit check.

How LendKey could improve

LendKey could improve its private student loans by offering:

  • Personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

  • Payment postponement for those who are in school or return to school.

LendKey private student loan details

Interest rates, fees and terms

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: No.

  • Loan terms: 5, 10 or 15 years.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance, minus other aid received.

  • Application or origination fee: No.

  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of the unpaid amount, after payment is 15 days late.

Compare LendKey’s range of interest rates with other private student loan lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate LendKey will offer you, apply on its website.


  • Minimum credit score: 660.

  • Minimum income: $24,000 per year.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 689.

  • Typical credit score of approved co-signers: 748.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: $32,000 per year.

  • Typical income of approved co-signers: $85,000 per year.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 33%, not including housing costs.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes, after five years.


  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • DACA borrowers: Not eligible.

  • Location: Available in all 50 U.S. states.

  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: No.

  • Loan can be used for past due tuition: You can request funds for tuition up to 90 days past due.

  • Types of schools served: Any school authorized to receive federal aid.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Over 90%.

In-school repayment options

  • Flat-fee: Pay a flat fee of $25 a month while you’re in school for up to 60 months. Full payments are due after that point.

  • Interest-only: Make monthly interest payments while you’re in school for up to 60 months. Full payments are due after that point.

  • Full in-school deferment: No.

Post-school repayment options

  • Income-based repayment option: No.

  • In-school deferment: No, borrowers cannot request to defer payments when returning to school.

  • Forbearance: Borrowers are eligible for 18 months of forbearance, in six-month increments, over the life of the loan.

  • Co-signer release available: Yes, after 24 months.

  • Death or disability discharge: Loan agreements do not guarantee it, but automatic discharge has been common practice among lenders, according to LendKey.

  • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • In-house customer service team: Yes.

  • Process for escalating concerns: No.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Average time from application to approval: Instant.

  • Career Assistance Program. Borrowers have access to services that can help them regain employment or improve their current employment situations — for example, if they are under-employed.

Before applying for a LendKey student loan

Before taking out a LendKey student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

If you aren’t eligible for a LendKey student loan

If LendKey denies your student loan application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or, if you haven’t already, try applying with a co-signer.


Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

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